Long before Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to found Facebook, Last.fm allowed music fans to keep an online record of the music they had been listening to in all sorts of music players, including iTunes, Winamp, and more. Last.fm's feature for this is called "scrobbling," based on the fact that it had acquired a company called AudioScrobbler in order to add it.
Now, Facebook does pretty much the same thing (except for with iTunes). All you have to do to send your playback history to your Facebook Timeline is use your Facebook identity to log into a music service. In that one simple step, you'll start sending your listening history to Facebook, so your friends can see what you've been listening to (unless you turn off Facebook sharing). In fact, "scrobbling" to Facebook is so easy that when Facebook added the feature, we called Last.fm the biggest loser in that equation.
Nonetheless, Last.fm soldiers on. It continues to scrobble not only from iTunes, but from cloud-based music services. If sharing your music habits with Facebook freaks you out, perhaps you'd rather share them to Last.fm, to keep your musical identity separate from your Facebook identity. Besides, scrobbling to Last.fm lets you enjoy all sorts of hacks and apps that run on your Last.fm profile. For the serious music fan with a taste for cutting-edge technology, there's no reason not to scrobble to both Last.fm and Facebook.
With that in mind, here's how you set up scrobbling for two commonly used programs: iTunes and Spotify.
Before you continue, you'll need to register for a Last.fm account, assuming you don't have one already.
How to scrobble from Spotify
1: Open up your Spotify preferences by going to Edit > Preferences.
2: Check the box that says "Scrobble to last.fm," and enter your username and password. Note: You can also control the sharing of your listening habits to Spotify Social (Spotify's own social network) and Facebook, just below the Last.fm controls:
3. That's it! Now, when you listen to anything in Spotify, it will appear on your Last.fm profile, which can be accessed by various apps as well as anyone with your unique Last.fm URL, so you can share your taste outside of Facebook. Your personal URL can be found at: last.fm/user/[your_user_name]. Here's mine.
2. Install The Scrobbler, choosing all the normal default options.
3. Now you'll be running Last.fm's Scrobbler plug-in on your computer. To use it, simply listen to music in iTunes, and whatever you listen to will be sent to your profile (see Spotify section above for your URL). In addition, whatever you listen to on your iPod, iPhone, or iPad will get automatically scrobbled too, when you sync that device.
4. You can start or stop scrobbling with ease, in the event that you want to listen to something super embarrassing. I'm on Windows today; here's what that looks like:
How to scrobble from any supported music player
Last.fm's scrobbling supports many, many music players, services, and plug-ins for the desktop, the Web, and social networks, as well as plenty of standalone, specialized scrobblers, each of which comes with its own directions.
However, adding the scrobbling feature to a supported service is often as simple as activating the setting and entering your information. For example, here's how you do it on This Is My Jam.
1. While you're on This Is My Jam, go to Account > Settings.
2. Click the Connected Apps tab.
3. Next to Last.fm, click the Connect button. (You can also control song sharing to Twitter and Facebook on this screen.)
4. Enter your Last.fm username and password.
And that, in a nutshell, is how you scrobble from just about anything. Not only will scrobbling create a shareable listening profile outside the confines of Facebook, but you can listen to Last.fm's radio stations, which take your scrobbling into account. If you run into any issues, check out Last.fm's scrobbling support page.
Disclosure: Last.fm is a part of CBS Interactive, which also publishes CNET How To.